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#TGW: Course Management

March 17, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

Seth Reeves stepped outside the tool shed for a few minutes Monday to talk about a great re-tooling going on at Georgia Tech. It’s a project that few expected.

The Yellow Jackets went sour in their last golf outing when they finished 12th in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters at the savage Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas. It wasn’t fun.

Tech closed shop at 53-over par 917, and while all scores were higher by miles than what might be considered normal for a college golf tournament, the Jackets left Vegas dazed.

When Ollie Schniederjans carded a 70 on the final day, it was the only subpar round of the tournament by a Tech player – and one of just 21 in the entire tournament spread among 225 rounds played by 75 players on 15 squads.  He finished tied for 12th at six-over par 222.

Reeves was next among the Jackets at 226, T-26. After Schniederjans’ 70, Reeves’ 73 on the second day was Tech’s second-best round of the tournament, and his 75 on the third day tied Bo Andrews’ score from the second day for third best.

It was a brutal outing, as the 7,500-yard track featured slick greens, tough rough, winds greater than 20 mph the first two days, and a different psychological requirement than the Jackets typically face.

So before Tech next competes, Monday and Tuesday at the Floridian Intercollegiate in Palm City, Fla., the Jackets seek to get their minds right again. They skittered out of whack in Vegas.

“It’s always the hardest course we play, but it was the hardest [set up and conditions] I’d ever seen,” Reeves said. “All the sudden, pars are like birdies, and bogeys are like pars. We lost a lot of strokes by guys just getting frustrated because they made a bogey when that wasn’t so bad sometimes.

“It was just one of those tournaments where we had five guys not play up to their ability. We know that we’re still one of the best [teams]. We’ll get right back on our horse.”

If Vegas injured the Jackets, the goal becomes having that wound calcify or close up and get stronger. If they learn from their mistakes – which were most often letting a bogey or a bad hole carry forward and create doubt over future holes – then the trip will have paid off.

“That’s how I’m taking it,” Reeves said. “I will probably learn more from Vegas than any tournament, and it would probably be the same for the other guys. Especially for nationals [May 27-June 2] because it will be windy, and the rough will be up at Prairie Dunes in [Hutchinson] Kansas.

“It’s about learning course management, and sometimes you can’t get caught up in not making birdies. There weren’t a whole lot of bogeys out there.”

So there’s not as much mechanical tinkering going on with the Jackets as psychological massaging.

“I think for us it’s getting back to just playing smart golf and taking one shot at a time. We need to play the way we know we can play,” Reeves said. “Coach [Bruce Heppler] will really be concerned with our attitudes and course management [at the Floridian] . . . about staying in moment, and managing our games.

“His job will be to talk to us about not getting ahead of ourselves. I think in the past, if we have played poorly we’ve sometimes tried really hard the next event to get one back. He said, ‘Guys, relax, everybody plays bad. You guys are still one of the best teams in the country. We’ll be there in the end.’”

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